Saturday Single No. 687

I’m trying to organize my thoughts about Long John Baldry’s 1991 CD It Still Ain’t Easy, which arrived here yesterday . . .

(The past six or so weeks of relative isolation have spurred jokes online and on television about folks going on online shopping sprees. There’s some truth to that here, as both the Texas Gal and I have been combing our favorite sites for goodies. Hers have been generally for quilting or cooking. Mine? Well, you can guess. Recent CD arrivals have been: Bob Dylan & The Band: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 – The Basement Tapes Complete, The Essential Bob Dylan, Intersection by Nanci Griffith, the three mid-1990s anthologies by the Beatles [supplementing the vinyl versions I got at the time], and the Baldry album mentioned above. I did buy one book, The Man Who Saved Britain, British author Simon Winder’s irreverent look at post-WWII Britain and the James Bond phenomenon.)

I’m pacing my listening of the Basement Tapes and the Beatles anthologies; those are more archival purchases than anything I’ll put into my regular rotation. The Essential Dylan will similarly get spare listening; it brings together most of his major recordings, almost all of which I’ve had for some time in at least one physical form, sometimes two. The one exception to that is “Things Have Changed” from the 2000 film Wonder Boys. So that was likely a frivolous purchase.

The purchases of the Baldry and Griffith CDs had more usual aims. I now once again have – in one form or another – all of Griffith’s studio albums (as well as one or two live performances), which satisfies an itch. And I’ve heard some of the Baldry album in various places and wanted to hear the rest.

And, pondering writing about It Still Ain’t Easy before I’ve totally absorbed it, I went to AllMusic this morning to see what the folks there had to say about the effort. Here’s Chip Renner’s assessment: “Baldry’s deep, rough-edged vocals have not changed over the years. The band is tight, with Mike Kalanj’s Hammond B-3 and Bill Rogers’ sax standing out. There are no flaws on this one, just great music.”

Well, all that is nice to know. But it terms of giving me a direction or pointing out specific tracks on which to focus, it leaves me wanting more. And I guess that’s okay. So we’ll just listen to the track that tipped me to the album a few years ago: “Midnight In New Orleans.” And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 687”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    My name is Yah Shure, and I, too, have sinned. What started out as a bookmarks cleanup two weeks ago morphed into a spending spree for some odds and ends 45s. The bookmark I’d linked to the Cocktail Slippers’ “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” on the Wicked Cool Records website ten years ago was no longer valid, since they’d sold out the pressing run. So off I went to see if there was another online dealer who still had the record in stock.

    There was. And while I was there, I added a bunch of other singles to the cart: A reissue of the Globetrotters’ 1970 doo-wop revival of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield’s “Rainy Day Bells” from the cartoon show (and on which Meadowlark Lemon had been allowed to contribute backing vocals); a replacement copy for the trashed Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Sit With The Guru” I’d bought used for a nickel in ’71, because I’ve since learned it’s supposedly different from the album version. There was also an edited mono promo 45 of an early Sister Sledge offering, “The Weatherman”, which I can use as a template to replicate it from the stereo CD track.

    That should be enou…What’s this? A promo copy of Blue Rose’s “Sweet Thing”? Added to the cart, just to see how they did the edit. Flash Cadillac’s “Good Times, Rock & Roll”, which we never got at the college station? Done! A U.K. Immediate copy of Amen Corner’s superior cover of The Move’s “Hello Susie” like the one my classmate, Marnie, brought back from Europe in ’69? Sure. Fellow collector John had recently asked about the single edit of Tanya Tucker’s “Texas (When I Die)” and there it was. Sold!

    I thought I had Gene Thomas’ Roy Orbison/Bobby Goldsboro-written “Baby’s Gone” on CD, but that turned out to be “Sometime.” How could I possibly resist a near-mint original 45 to upgrade the scratchy dub I’d found back in the Napster era? Hey, hey: the promo 45 of Love Unlimited’s “It May Be Winter Outside”, which had both the short edit I’d played on the college station and the long version on the commercial 45 I’d bought back in the day, with an intro that lasts all winter. Surprise: the mixes for both sides, as well as the even-longer album version, are all unique.

    The one unfamiliar purchase came while searching through the dealer’s alphabetical artist listing. Morning Reign? That listing turned out to be a Dennis Lambert-Brian Potter composition and co-production on the short-lived T-A label from 1970; quite poppy and very brassy in that Drake/Chenault “Hit Parade” radio format style of the day. “Can I Believe In You” proved to be irresistible ear candy.

    The good news was the cartload of non-essentials qualified for free shipping! The bad news was that I wasn’t finished. It got me thinking about another obscurity I’d run across within the last year. The Rockin’ Berries’ “The Water Is Over My Head” – co-written by Al Kooper and Irwin “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” Levine – had been played as the rarity on BBC Radio Manchester’s ’60s show one Sunday morning, and it led to further investigation. It seemed the Brits had covered it via a 1965 American single by Eddie Hodges, of all people, and when I checked his record out on youtube, I was surprised at how much I liked it. Or at least the backing track behind Eddie, which had to have been the Wrecking Crew, sounding very much like what they were then laying down on Dunhill’s emerging folk-rock stuff.

    Trouble was, the “Water” was the “B” side of a Bob Dylan cover, which had briefly Bubbled Under at #134. Translation: “Love Minus Zero”/”The Water” was one very scarce 45 on the Aurora label. Ebay came to the rescue, but at a higher cost than I ever would have forked over for the entire Eddie Hodges catalog, let alone one truly forgotten 45. But I think it illustrates what the thrill of the hunt for “new” music comes down to at this stage of one’s life: enjoy it while you still can.

    Lesson learned. No more cleaning out old bookmarks.

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